RIGHTS OF FOREIGNERS IN THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA – LAWYER BELGRADEIvan
Foreigners intending to stay in the Republic of Serbia face numerous dilemmas and potential difficulties in finding the most favorable legal framework for regulating status for themselves, their family members, employees, etc. This text gives a short guide for foreigners, starting from the moment a foreigner enters the Republic of Serbia through their legal status regulation in the form of a temporary residence permit and, if necessary, obtaining a work permit.
The rights of foreigners in the Republic of Serbia are primarily governed by the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of RS” No. 24/2018) and the Law on Employment of Foreigners (“Official Gazette of RS” No. 128/2014, 113/2017 and 50/2018).
VISA AND VISA-FREE ENTRY REGIME
Any person who does not have Serbian citizenship is considered a foreigner. Considering the possibility of foreigners entering Serbia without special approval (visa), we distinguish between two legal regimes: visa-free and visa. The visa regime is a rule, but an international agreement or a government decision may stipulate the right of citizens of certain countries to enter Serbia without a visa.
Consequently, Serbia has a visa-free entry regime agreement with numerous countries, with varying visa-free stay lengths. Citizens of Schengen Agreement signatory countries, USA, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, etc., can spend in Serbia a total of up to 90 days, consecutive or non-consecutive, within a 6-month period starting from the day of first entry without a visa. On the other hand, citizens of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation – may spend up to 30 days in Serbia without a visa.
ENTRY REQUIREMENT AND REGISTRATION OF STAY
In order for a foreign citizen to enter Serbia, they need to meet certain conditions:
- Having a valid travel document – most often a passport, but ID cards are also accepted for citizens of certain countries,
- Travel arrangement (tourist visit) or invitation letter from a domestic citizen, company, or institution.
- Travel health insurance valid for the period of intended foreigner’s stay in Serbia
- Means of subsistence during the stay in Serbia and for returning to the home country or transit to another country (a smaller amount is required in case of a travel arrangement or an invitation letter stating that another person will bear the costs of foreigner’s stay).
After a foreigner enters the territory of the Republic of Serbia, it is necessary to register their stay within 24 hours and obtain the so-called white card. A foreigner’s stay is registered at the local police station in the territory covering the address of the foreigner’s stay.
Foreigner’s stay is to be registered by:
- legal entities, entrepreneurs, and individuals providing accommodation with financial compensation, or their legal representatives, within 24 hours from the provision of accommodation.
- legal entities, entrepreneurs, and individuals being visited by foreigners, or their legal representatives or a person authorized by them, within 24 hours from the foreigner’s arrival.
The foreigner’s stay is registered by filling out the Foreigner’s Stay Application Form in two copies, one of which is submitted to the competent authority to enter data from the foreigner’s stay application into the electronic records, and the other is delivered to the foreigner whose stay is being registered, to serve as proof of the place and address of stay.
TEMPORARY RESIDENCE OF FOREIGNERS
We have already written about temporary residence here. Temporary residence refers to a residence permit for a foreign national in the Republic of Serbia and may be granted to a foreigner intending to stay in the Republic of Serbia for longer than 90 days on one of the grounds stipulated by law – e.g., company establishment and employment, family reunification, studying, real estate ownership, professional specializations, etc. A temporary residence permit may be approved for up to one year and may be extended.
The requirements for obtaining a foreigner temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia are as follows:
- proof of means of subsistence during the planned stay
- proof of health insurance during the planned stay
- registration of residential address in the Republic of Serbia
EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS IN SERBIA – WORK PERMITS
Employment of a foreigner is conditioned by holding an employment-based long-term stay visa, approval for temporary residence or permanent residence, and a work permit. A work permit is a document based on which a foreigner can be employed or self-employed in Serbia.
A work permit can be approved as:
1) personal work permit;
2) work permit
A personal work permit is a type of work permit that allows a foreigner in the Republic of Serbia to be lawfully employed, self-employed, and exercise unemployment rights. A personal work permit is approved at the request of a close family member (spouse, common-law partner, minor children) of a foreigner who has been granted temporary residence or permanent residence in Serbia, as well as a foreigner close family member of a Serbian citizen. The condition is that a close family member of a foreigner/citizen of Serbia has been approved temporary residence or permanent residence in the Republic of Serbia.
A personal work permit is approved for the period of validity of the ID card for foreigners (foreigners who have been approved a permanent residence permit) i.e., the period of validity of the temporary residence permit (foreigners who have been approved a temporary residence permit in Serbia).
Serbian law recognizes three types of work permits:
1) employment work permit
3) self-employment work permit
Only one type of work permit may be approved for one time period.
You may contact a lawyer for more information about the rights of foreigners in the Republic of Serbia.